Censorship as Christmas Present

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This is just a brief article about the current discussions and the outcome of the euroDIG2009 where I do receive the email newsletter from. From the mailing list on cyber crime and cyber security I received the recommendations and the transcription from the ‘Workshop 4’ at EuroDIG 2009. With the majority of the discussed topics and the outcome I do agree. Due to the fact that these issues are relevant for the EuroDIG 2010 and the IGF 2010 there is a certain point I would like to make.

Let me first briefly state with which of the discussed points I agree. Using agreed democratic principles in order to fight cyber crime and therefore take into account that the online world is different from the offline are good approaches. Especially the last one is very important, because cyber law should be different to traditional real life law because it is not applicable. Unfortunately, this is another topic for which I do not have the time now, if I want my presents to be packed until evening :). Secondly, relying on existing treaties and implementing ‘global trusted privacy and data protection policies’ as well as using trusted authentication systems in order to enhance data protection in authentication methods are good starting points. Lastly, the Internet community should be heard when new technologies are implemented (such as DNSSEC or IPv6) is not a bad thing. Furthermore, new technologies should be introduced carefully because they could involve additional weak spots in their structure allowing more cybercrime to happen.

Where I do not agree is, and this is based on the experience in my own country, that blocking websites (in this case focused on websites with pornographic and indecent content of minors) is a good way to deal with children pornography. That is so wrong. There are blogs and websites filled with information why this is the worst thing a state can do. Every available energy should be invested in hunting down people who upload this stuff on to the Internet and distribute and/ or sell it. Furthermore, people who consume it should be charged as well. Blocking the content does not only not help anyone, it additionally makes things worse.

If you host forbidden content and you cannot reach your own websites anymore because it is blocked by measures taking place at the DNS, you are know that the state authority is aware of what you are doing. So you do your best in order to hide yourself the stuff you have done before they can get hold of you. Additionally, with some skills, these measures are easy to circumvent. The last point, and personally I think this is the most important one, blocking websites makes state authority think that they have already dealt with the problem and do not anything else about it. Thus, the only thing that happens is that the responsible are warned and their fellows have to reconfigure their DNS and proxy settings. I do not want to argue that the black lists and more of the time not transparent and therefore can be misused by state authority to block websites of political enemies. In one of my other articles I have already been talking about it. See under ‘Read more’.

Due to the fact that it is Christmas I do not want to go further on this issue. I think you all understand what I mean and if you have further questions you can ask me for my dissertation where I was working in some part in blocking content, the outcome and other ways of dealing with the mentioned problems.

So far, I wish you all a merry Christmas with you beloved – but keep in mind: censorship and blockage of websites is a shame and not a solution!

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